Talk of Passports, Not Passes, in Idled N.B.A.

Credit...Marcus Yam for The New York Times

This summer was supposed to be an opportunity for Jeremy Hazell to impress clubs with his play for an N.B.A. summer league team and earn an invitation to a training camp in the fall. From there, he would have worked to earn a spot on the team and the guaranteed contract that would go with it.

Instead, Hazell, a former star guard at Seton Hall, is at home in Harlem, locked out of the league he dreams of playing in, waiting and weighing his options as the N.B.A. heads into an uncertain future.

A job overseas could be Hazell’s best option.

“It is definitely frustrating just because when I come out my senior year, there’s a lockout,” said Hazell, who finished his four-year career at Seton Hall third on the program’s career scoring list with 2,146 points but was not selected in the N.B.A. draft last month. “But it’s just the process you got to go through. I can’t stop it, so whatever I got to do to get in the league or to go overseas, me and my agent are going to work on that.”

Just being able to pursue his basketball dream marks something of an achievement for Hazell. He was shot in the right armpit during an attempted robbery on Christmas night last year when visiting his family. He had already been out of the lineup after breaking his left wrist in Seton Hall’s third game of the season on Nov, 18, but returned and still managed to play in 15 more games.

Recently, his agent, Seth Cohen, said that Hazell received positive feedback in the nine workouts leading to the draft and that Hazell was invited to a three-day workout with the Atlanta Hawks the Sunday after the draft. But because of the lockout, nothing beyond the workout was possible.

“Had it not been for the lockout, he would have played himself onto that roster and would be playing in the N.B.A. this coming season,” Cohen said.

With the lockout in place, teams are not allowed to sign or make offers to free agents, leaving N.B.A. hopefuls in a peculiar position. Prospective players would typically have an opportunity to play in one of the N.B.A.’s two summer leagues, in Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas. Both have been canceled.

This year, players have to make a decision: wait until the lockout is over, knowing it could extend well into the season — as an earlier one did in the 1998-99 season — or sign with a team overseas.

Since the lockout began on July 1, players from undrafted rookies to at least one established star, Deron Williams of the Nets, have signed agreements to play overseas.

By the Monday after the draft, Ben Hansbrough, a former Notre Dame star, had made his decision: he is going overseas after signing with Bayern Munich in Germany.

“I think with the lockout being what it is and so unpredictable, my best decision would be to go over and play for something that’s comparable to an N.B.A. salary that’s guaranteed,” said the undrafted Hansbrough, who was last season’s Big East player of the year after averaging 18.4 points. “They had to know by Monday. I think it was a great offer, and I had time to think about it. With the N.B.A. being so unpredictable, I did it.”

Other undrafted players, like Ohio State’s David Lighty and Washington’s Matthew Bryan-Amaning, have followed suit. Lighty reportedly signed a two-year contract worth $300,000 with Cantu in Italy, and Bryan-Amaning came to terms on a one-year deal with Hacettepe in Turkey.

In a typical year, players would most likely resist signing with a team overseas until they did not make an N.B.A. team after training camp. Now the decision needs to be made earlier, when the best offers are available. Free agents and drafted players could also go overseas, although it is unlikely that first-round selections will.

But having a contract in the N.B.A. does not mean a player cannot make the jump. Since the league is locking out its players, the players are considered unemployed and can sign with teams overseas if they get clearance from FIBA, world basketball’s governing body. On July 7, Williams, the Nets’ All-Star point guard, became the first star player to agree to play overseas if the lockout continued into the season. The Turkish club Besiktas will pay him $200,000 a month.

“Even for players who are under contract, there’s the possibility of losing the entire season,” the N.B.A. agent Mark Bartelstein said. “So do you want to take the risk of losing your entire salary this year versus getting a contract overseas you feel good about? It’s a decision you have to make.”

With economies foundering in Europe, the opportunities for N.B.A.-level salaries have dried up considerably in the last couple of years, leaving less money to entice players and a more competitive market.

“There’s going to be a bigger supply of players that are looking to go overseas, and so it obviously creates a rush to take jobs because there’s more competition for those jobs,” Bartelstein said, adding that there are “5 to 10 teams, at the most” overseas that can offer salaries comparable to those in the N.B.A.

Such was the reason for Nenad Krstic’s decision to sign a two-year, $9.8 million contract with CSKA Moscow after starting 67 games with the Celtics and the Thunder last season.

“His decision was really based purely on if there wasn’t a lockout, he would not have made that move,” Krstic’s agent, Marc Cornstein, said. “He was very comfortable with the position he was in with the Celtics. I think he felt comfortable going forward, that he had a great opportunity to be their starting center, but he was very nervous about the lockout and realized that the contract that was offered him with CSKA Moscow was going to be a once-in-the-summer opportunity.”

For Hazell and other N.B.A. hopefuls, that kind of money is not an option. They are just looking to avoid losing a year of development and income.

Cohen said he was seeking only a one- or two-year deal with an N.B.A. out clause after the first year for the 6-foot-5 Hazell. He expects him to play his way into the N.B.A. next summer if he does play overseas this season.

For players like Hazell and Hansbrough, it is a waiting game.

As Hansbrough said, “Who knows what’s going to happen with the N.B.A.?”